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©1999 - 2005
Edward D. Reuss
All rights reserved. Including the right of reproduction in whole or part in any form

 

The Seminars on Workplace Violence

During the past year, we have been presenting one-day seminars on workplace violence at the Criminal Justice Institute, John Jay College, University of the City of New York.  Part of these seminars deal with the trauma that often results from workplace violence.  Critical incident stress without proper counseling can lead to post-traumatic stress disorderTim O'Neill is a Crime Prevention Specialist with the NYPD. He is also trained in critical incident stress debriefing.  He isn't just trained in CISD; he volunteers his time and strength to help his fellow cops who have been traumatized. He gives a one-hour talk on Critical Incident Stress at the seminars.  Listening to him give his talks has been an education for me too.  When we first started to give the seminars, I had only a superficial knowledge of debriefings and defusing sessions for emergency service workers. When I was still an active captain with the NYPD, I had merely referred cops for "trauma counseling" in incidents such as deadly use of force. I must confess that I had looked askance at the concept of trauma counseling. Thankfully, leaders in law enforcement have finally recognized critical incident stress counseling.  The events of September 11th have brought out the importance of such counseling for all those effected by violence.

Recently, I visited Tim O"Neill at Ground Zero , the site of the World Trade Center disaster.  Tim has been working at the site for many weeks. The traumatic effects of the devastation at Ground Zero are felt by all that go there. As I spoke with Tim, I looked into his face for the signs of the trauma and stress that I had observed in the eyes of many of the cops and firefighters. He is the right person to be at that location. The NYPD could not have made a better choice to interact with the emergency service workers at such a critical location. He is good people.

 

The attack on the World Trade Center resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent workers.
Terrorist acts are now a possible scenario in the workplace. The increase of violence in all forms range from assaults and threatening behavior to hostage taking and barricaded emotionally disturbed personsDomestic violence also has increasingly become a problem for the workplace.
For the individual worker, death at the hands of an emotional disturbed person, or a "disgruntled" former employee, is just a final as when a terrorist flies an airplane into the office building.

According to Pinkerton, America's leading security firm, workplace violence, and the damaging trauma caused by such events, continues to be the leading concern of security managers at America's largest corporations.  In the past 10 years, the number of violent acts in the workplace has increased by 300 percent! Homicide has become the second leading cause of death on the job. 

Top managers must prepare for incidents of workplace violence. A good way to prepare is to have security, safety directors, and human resource managers attend the John Jay Seminar on workplace violence. The seminar builds upon  "Combating Workplace Violence-Guidelines for Employers and Law Enforcement" the recommendations of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). These guidelines were provided as a service of the IACP'S Private Sector Liaison Committee.  But the seminar has been interactive with much information sharing by those on the front lines of today's workplace. The exchange of ideas and the sharing of information are what makes these seminars an invaluable tool for those in law enforcement, security and safety, and human resources management.

The recent seminars have been attended by such diverse organizations as:

 the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United Nations Security, the US Postal Inspection Service, the New York Power Authority, the New York County District Attorney's Office, and police agencies such as the MTA.  The private sector has been represented by security managers from agencies such as the New York Stock Exchange, Salomon Smith Barney, Goldman Sachs, NBC Broadcasting and Mutual of America. Lincoln Center in Manhattan, Staten Island University Hospital, St. Francis Hospital have sent their security managers.  Yeshiva University, York College and Fordham University have also been represented.

The seminar covers management styles and corporate environments that may create a climate that fails to anticipate workplace violence.  It goes into the proper use of performance evaluations to identify and refer employees with personal problems that may prevent more serious inter-personal stress and conflict.  The current trends in the law and civil liabilities are explored along with the rational for the guidelines.  The establishment of a Threat Management Plan, with a Threat Management Team, Designated Management Representative, and preparation of Threat Incident Reports and a tracking system to ensure follow-up is covered in detail. 

The concept of a "think tank" role for the Threat Management Team in incidents of violence and terrorism is key.  Working with the police, fire, and emergency services and the role of management in providing critical information for use of hostage negotiators in situations of domestic violence, barricaded emotionally disturbed persons, and terrorists is a form of training that only those experienced in such police work can provide. As a former Captain of Police, NYPD, I am also a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police

Robert J. Louden, Ph.D. Director of the Security Management Institute of the Criminal Justice Center, John Jay College presents a critical segment of the seminars dealing with on-going incidents of violence and terrorism.   He draws from his experience as the former Commander of the NYPD Hostage Negotiation Unit to illustrate the psychology behind the various hostage takers and the problems that must be overcome by negotiators. The knowledge and information that is exchanged at the seminars provides those who attend with the information base to build a sound foundation for their Threat Management Plan.

Liability is a factor that all organizations must take into account when considering violence in the workplace. Legislation is being prepared by various state agencies. Here in New York State, a number of bills have already been approved by the Assembly and has been sent to the State Senate for passage. Even without statute law, litigation in the form of lawsuits for negligent hiring and retention has been increasing at an alarming rate. With the very real possibility of legislation in the area of violence in the workplace, such liability will increase. What better way to attenuate civil liability than to get the training necessary to put into practice a Threat Management Plan as recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police?

For information go to:

http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/centersInstitutes/criminalJusticeCenter/course/cjcCombat/
cjccwv.html


or contact:

Ashton Franklyn
Tel: (212) 237-8638
Fax: (212) 237-8637
E- Mail: cjcsmitr@jjay.cuny.edu

Edward D. Reuss
Captain, NYPD (ret)
Member- International Association of Chiefs of Police
ereuss@si.rr.com

Copyright © 2001 Edward D. Reuss

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